There is so much hype out there and so many trends that come and go. I have seen some ridiculous things over the last 20 years as a doctor, many of which I have been excited about, regrettably. While I certainly believe in keeping an open mind to evolving and progressive skin care strategies, over-exaggerated hype often takes center stage. So, in this forum, I am going to honestly discuss some of the trends, how they work, and if they are worth trying.
Trend #1: Suction Lip Plumpers
Having voluptuous, full lips is a symbol of youth and beauty. It is true that lips become smaller as we age, so the desire to have fuller lips is understandable. There are multiple brands of suction lip plumpers, but they all work basically the same way. These devices are basically forming a hickey on your lips. They pull fluid and blood into the lips, causing the (hopefully) desired amount of swelling. The result will last only as long as it takes your body to heal from the trauma, and there is a very fine line between a nice result and damaged tissue.
Benefits: Swollen, larger lips.
Risks: Bruising, broken blood vessels, damaged collagen leading to long-term damage.
Alternatives: Lip plumper glosses (Buxom, Clinicians Complex and Too Faced all make some great lip gloss enhancers) for a temporary fix. These lip plumper products contain ingredients that externally stimulate blood flow to the area and last one to two hours. They may be drying or irritating to the skin. Hyaluronic acid fillers performed by an expert, board-certified dermatologist will provide natural results. When enhancing lips, an experienced injector will ensure lips are in the proper ratio to each other and in natural proportion to the rest of your face.
Bottom Line: Avoid suction lip plumpers, as the risks do not outweigh the benefits.
Trend #2 Micellar Water
Micellar water is composed of spheres of cleansing oil molecules (“micelles”) suspended in water. These micelles are attracted to dirt and oil, and draw out impurities without drying out the skin, as typical soap would do. These micelles basically suck out the oil and dirt and leave behind soft, hydrated skin without disturbing the skin’s pH or healthy skin barrier. Ideally, micellar water can be used as a facial wash, makeup remover and moisturizer all in one.
Benefits: Micellar water can work as a cleanser and moisturizer for those with dry or sensitive skin, or after a procedure. It can minimize the number of steps or products you use. It is really great when traveling or camping with little access to water, or when you need to consolidate your products.
Risks: No real risks, but it will not remove heavy foundation, waterproof eye makeup, and will likely not be a strong enough cleanser for acne-prone or oily skin. Many cleansers do a much better job for specific skin issues, like acne.
Alternatives: Skin-specific cleansers. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you will want to use a cleanser that is directed for your needs. I use it now prior to using my Clarisonic with my specific cleanser. It helps to remove my makeup and tinted sunscreen prior to cleansing. I find that I still need a moisturizer since I live in the desert, but if you are younger or live in a more humid climate, this may work as a cleanser and moisturizer for you.
Bottom Line: I do recommend trying these products and testing them out for yourself. They are inexpensive and may come in handy at times. Since micellar water was created in England in 1913 and used in France to avoid harsh Parisian water, I tend to recommend European brands, Bioderma and Vichy.
Trend #3: Charcoal Masks
While charcoal has a long history of been used internally for detoxification in the medical setting, these effects don’t necessarily translate to skin detoxification. Charcoal, by itself, can draw out some impurities from the skin, but the products must be formulated with complementary ingredients and be used in the right setting. Charcoal masks found all over the Internet are often sold by international, unregulated companies and are typically made with glue. These glue masks strip the skin of its natural protective barrier, and leave the skin vulnerable to inflammation and infection. Has your skin ever torn off after waxing or getting burned? As a dermatologist, this is now what I am seeing as a result of using many of these peel-away masks. Any blackheads that are removed are extremely temporary, and often reform within a few days as the body scrounges all its resources to rebuild the stripped and damage the skin barrier. If something is good for your skin and you can do it at home, it shouldn’t hurt!
Benefits: Origins Charcoal Exfoliating Cleansing Powder is a nice option if you have very congested, oily skin. Most of the severe problems are not from the products you would purchase in the United States, but instead from overseas online portals without safety regulations.
Risks: Permanent skin damage— torn skin, discoloration, collagen damage, broken blood vessels and infection.
Alternatives: Get a good facial or microdermabrasion from a medical aesthetician in a dermatology office. The services offered in a professional setting are well worth your time and money, as the risks are low and rewards are high. Often, fewer treatments are needed to get fabulous results. To decongest pores, use retinol or adapaline, both sold over the counter, nightly three to five times a week.
Bottom Line: If you have oily and congested skin, you can play around with some of the charcoal cleansers located in U.S. stores. Avoid all peeling charcoal masks online, as the risks may be severe.
Next time, we will discuss other trends including tattoo freckles, skin care supplements, and body skin care. If you have any questions or topics you would like to discuss, please email Dr. Haley at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact her on Instagram @drjenhaley